Due to emerging technologies being adopted by the public at large, much attention has been focused lately on cell phones and distracted driving. As many as 9 states prohibit all drivers from using handheld phones while another 34, including Tennessee, have banned text messaging.
No state though has banned cell phone use outright for regular drivers. Those on learner’s permits, school bus drivers and truckers (…in Tennessee) are prohibited from using their phones while driving.
The larger issue with cell phones behind the wheel is of course distracted driving, which is considered to be the cause of many accidents. As longtime drivers ourselves, we know how cell phones can be a distraction while in traffic.
For me personally, receiving a call while driving is distracting enough!!
Below are 10 easy steps you can take to avoid being distracted while behind the wheel. Following these simple guidelines can go a long way to keeping you and your family safe on the road.
- Before you get in the car, turn OFF your cell phone
- Have a custom voicemail and let callers know you will call them back when you’re free (…and not driving)
- If you need to make a call, pull off the road
- If the call can’t wait, ask a passenger to make the call
- Do NOT text, surf the Internet or read e-mail while driving under any circumstance!!
- Be familiar with your state and local laws
- Before leaving on a trip, program your GPS device, review maps and read directions. Know where you’re going before you go
- Be sure any pets are secure before you drive
- Avoid heated conversations with fellow passengers
- Avoid any activity that can take your mind and eyes off the road
Although laws restricting cell phone use are a positive step, they don’t necessarily translate into reduced fatalities caused by distracted driving. According to a recent report from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, no evidence that banning cell phone use while driving is effective.
However, cell phone use isn’t the only way you can be distracted while driving. Eating, talking, using a GPS, grooming, etc. etc. are all ways you can be distracted behind the wheel.
According to statistics compiled by Oklahoma Law, distracted drivers are 23 times more likely to cause an accident. Drunk drivers on the other hand are only 7 times as likely to cause one.
Put in that context, distracted driving can be quite dangerous.
In 2009, 16% of car crash deaths could be attributed to driver distraction. More staggering though, the numbers suggest up to 80% of the fatalities could have involved the distraction itself.
The important takeaway – be mindful of your safety and that of your passengers. Maintain focus on the road at all times.
If you’re involved in an accident with a distracted driver, you may have grounds for a legal claim. To learn more about your particular case, contact Nashville car accident attorneys at Gilreath & Associates today for a free consultation.
Original article appeared in the Fall 2001 issue of the Safety Report